New work: Steven Lippman photographs “Europe’s most controversial soccer player” for ESPN The Magazine

In his profile of Mario Balotelli in the current issue of ESPN The Magazine, writer Sam Alipour dubs Balotelli “Europe’s most controversial soccer player.”Apparently, Balotelli—who plays for England’s Manchester City soccer team—is a gifted athlete but rather mercurial. In his first season with Man City, Alipour explains, Balotelli “was red-carded twice…and was reprimanded for off-field antics that ranged from childish (heaving water balloons at the media) to dangerous (throwing a dart at a member of Man City’s youth team).”

So when ESPN The Magazine photo editor Stephanie Weed commissioned Steven Lippman to shoot portraits to accompany the feature, she explained she wanted images that expressed Balotelli’s, uh, loud personality, as well as some staged action shots. All of the photos were to be shot on seamless (in a ballroom at the Ritz-Carlton in Marina del Rey in L.A.), without benefit of location signifiers or props other than a ball, which means the success of the portraits would really depend on Steven’s ability to direct Balotelli.

For what it’s worth, in the article, one of his teammates describes Balotelli—whose parents, Ghanaian immigrants who were struggling to make a living in Italy, gave him up to foster care when he was 3—as shy and friendly. I think Steven captures the complexity of this 21-year-old’s personality.

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Mario Balotelli. Photo by Steven Lippman for ESPN The Magazine.

Mario Balotelli. Photo by Steven Lippman for ESPN The Magazine.

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One Comment

  1. Posted 11/04/2011 at 9:09 pm | Permalink

    Steve,
    Great photos..

    E


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